Police power to quarantine

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    WITH nine individuals in Manila under investigation for possible coronavirus infection who refused to be isolated, Health Secretary Francisco Duque III announced last Saturday that “Philippine authorities will invoke state police power if people who have flu-like symptoms will refuse to undergo a mandatory quarantine to protect the public from this treacherous rapidly transmissible and potentially deadly illness.” In Hong Kong, violators are subject to a prison term up to six months. Other cities and countries may already have such laws or will follow suit.

    In a press conference in Quezon City, Duque said the 44-year-old Chinese male companion of the first confirmed case of the novel coronavirus in the country, a 38-year-old Chinese woman, also tested positive for the virus and died February 2, 2020. Both came from Wuhan, Hubei province, China, and were isolated at the San Lazaro Hospital in Manila. This was the first death outside China.

    The first American death, a 60-year-old, succumbed to the nCoV at a hospital in Wuhan on February 6, 2020. There are now at least 12 confirmed cases in the United States. This era of rapid transportation (air, sea, and land) enables infectious diseases to spread with impunity, unless contained properly in a timely (emergent) fashion. Apparently, the socialist authorities in Wuhan miserably failed in this regard.

    Hopefully, not again!

    “The Black Death, also known as the Pestilence (Pest for short), the Great (Bubonic) Plague or the Plague, or less commonly the Black Plague, was one of the most devastating pandemics in human history, resulting in the deaths of an estimated 75 to 200 million people in Eurasia, peaking in Europe from 1347 to 1351,” wiping out about one third of the population of Europe.

    The SARS pandemic of 2002 involved 30 countries with 8,437 cases and 813 deaths. The MERS of 2012 was in 27 countries, with 2,494 cases and 858 deaths.

    As of February 10th, the total number of cases in more than 25 provinces in China, majority (32,000) in Wuhan, Hubei, jumped to almost 43,000 (worldwide) and the death toll more than 1,000, surpassing the SARS pandemic.

    With an incubation period of 14 days, where infected people are not even aware they have the virus in them and are carrier of this disease, which is easily transmitted to other people, this virus could spread like a wild fire and kill massively, if not contained.

    Quarantine is an effective weapon to minimize spread. And it is the duty and obligation of governments to implement quarantine to protect the general public. Utilizing police power, if needed, is most justified for the interest and security of the people. Doing anything less would be negligent and criminal.

    It is obvious that people exposed to the virus who refuse to be quarantined are simply not smart. Going home, they will expose their family and the people around them and spread the killer virus to the entire community. Just like what is happening in China.

    After reading my column today, you might hear escalation of cases and deaths in China and in other 28 countries. So far, the only 2 deaths outside of China are one in Hong Kong and one in the Philippines.

    Chinese doctor whistleblower punished

    Chinese ophthalmologist Li Wenliang, who tried to sound an alarm about the virus outbreak in China last December, was punished by the Communist Party in China for being a whistleblower. Sadly, Dr. Wenliang himself died from virus infection late last Thursday, at age 34.

    Google News: “Anger was swelling online in China over the death of a whistleblower doctor who tried to sound the alarm about the deadly outbreak but was silenced by Communist Party authorities. On social media, users hailed Li Wenliang as a hero, after the ophthalmologist was reported to have died of the virus late Thursday. Social media users also began voicing rare fury toward the Chinese government and demanding freedom of speech, echoing the sentiments of the 1989 Tiananmen uprising, as censors moved to squelch the dissent.”

    This glaringly shows how freedom and democracy are superior to socialism, even in health and medicine, a gold standard for the world, for humankind and for kindness to humans and all living souls.

    Fecal transmission

    While the virus is still being determined if it is airborne (virus in the air, spread by sneezing or coughing), fecal (contamination) transmission is now being considered as another mode of transmission. Some cases of documented virus infection had abdominal discomfort, pain, and diarrhea before shortness of breath started and death from a form of pneumonia occurred.

    Is China being transparent?

    China has isolated itself, quarantined sectors of provinces and cities. Major airlines have stopped services to and from China. Countless passengers returning to their home countries via China are stranded. Countries around the globe have advised their citizens against traveling to China.

    It now seems plausible that China was (is) not transparent, nor proactive and preemptive in dealing with the virus infection from the very beginning way before December of 2019.

    Punishing a person like Dr. Wenliang, especially a medical professional, who had taken the oath to serve and protect the people, for warning and protecting the people, the country, and the world, from a deadly virus, is like allowing a massacre of countless human beings to go unchecked for a prolonged period, a catastrophic deadly happening intentionally hidden from the world, resulting in the devastation the whole world is now facing. The United Nations must hold culpable parties accountable.

    Prevention strategy

    As in any disease, prevention is the key, better than any cure. It is prudent (1) to wash hands for at least half a minute with soap and water and at least 8 times a day, after waking up, before meals, after meals, after visit to toilet, etc.; (2) Do not touch or scratch the face with fingers, use a clean tissue paper or the back of your hand; (3) Stay away from crowded places or people who may have respiratory infection, or people who could have been exposed (as those coming from China or US city with reported virus; (4) Help educate family members and friends re: viral spread; (5) If you have symptoms, quarantine yourself and protect your family and friends; (6) Eat healthy and get enough sleep and rest.

    Vaccines against the virus are in the pipeline. The US-CDC does not recommend wearing surgical mask in public, which is not effective for airborne diseases and are useful only in upper respiratory infection. Where unavoidable exposure is possible, wearing a mask and doing the standard flu protocol won’t hurt. Vigilance and common sense are most beneficial in dealing with any illness, and, again, prevention is the key.

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    Philip S. Chua, MD, FACS, FPCS, a Cardiac Surgeon Emeritus based in Northwest Indiana and Las Vegas, Nevada, is an international medical lecturer/author, and Chairman of the Filipino United Network-USA, a 501(c)3 humanitarian foundation in the United States. Websites: FUN8888.com and philipSchua.com Email: [email protected]